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PTSD in nurses: the importance of self-awareness. PTSD Why are you still here?

Updated: Dec 8, 2023


PTSD in nurses: the importance of self-awareness. PTSD Symptoms Why is it still here?


If you have had PTSD, it can sometimes feel like the symptoms will never go away. You may wonder if you will ever feel free from PTSD again. Indeed, PTSD may never entirely go away, but with the personal treatment plan, it is possible to lead a every day, happy life with any relapses of PTSD symptoms few and far between.

The critical thing to remember is that recovery takes time. It will depend on your experience and the type of trauma: keep in mind to have patience for your healing.



Why is my PTSD still here?

There are two main types: PTSD and complex PTSD. However, within both of these conditions, there are different severities of experiences and trauma. For example, if someone develops PTSD after a car accident, they may recover faster than someone who has experienced long-term neglect or abuse.

This is because, in the first instance, the person who experienced a car crash will be exposed to their triggers more regularly simply by living their lives. As some people don’t fully recover from PTSD, it can be helpful to think of yourself as ‘in remission’ instead of fully healed. This will then allow you to be prepared should your symptoms ever begin to get worse again.


Early signs PTSD may be returning

If your PTSD symptoms have been manageable or gone altogether for some time, it can be unsettling if you think they may be returning. It is essential to recognise some early warning signs of PTSD so you can take control and make positive changes before the symptoms take over.


Watch out for:


● Change in sleeping patterns or quality

● Emotional outbursts- anger or crying

● Panic attacks

● Avoiding people or environments

● Feeling hopeless



It's important to keep in mind that everyone's experience with PTSD can be different, so not all of these symptoms may apply to everyone. However, being aware of these warning signs can be helpful in taking steps to manage your symptoms before they become overwhelming.

  • Feeling emotionally numb or detached from others

  • Having difficulty concentrating or remembering things

  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or fatigue

  • Having intrusive thoughts or memories related to the traumatic event

  • Feeling on edge or easily startled

What may cause my PTSD to return?

PTSD may return at various points in a year or throughout your life. This could be due to an event such as an anniversary, a new trauma, or a worldwide tragedy such as 9/11. Although you cannot predict every situation that may trigger PTSD, it can be helpful to be aware of conditions and events that may increase the likelihood of PTSD returning.


It's crucial to remember that PTSD symptoms can be triggered by regular pressures in addition to special events or anniversaries. PTSD symptoms can be made worse by stressors including increased workloads, financial difficulties, or relationship problems, which can cause feelings of worry, anger, or sadness. Understanding these common stressors and developing appropriate coping strategies is crucial. Doing things like going to the gym regularly, practising mindfulness, or connecting with a therapist or peer support group can all help.



Living With PTSD

Whether or not your PTSD goes away entirely, living an every day, happy life is possible. Learning to cope with PTSD is a massive part of recovery; this can be achieved through a combination of the personal treatment plan, including therapies. It is vital to give your recovery time and to celebrate any achievement you make during this time. Make sure you allow your support network to look out for you and help you through any difficult periods.


Lifestyle modifications can help you manage symptoms and improve your health in addition to treatment plans and therapies. These include eating well, exercising, and sleeping enough. Alcohol and narcotics worsen PTSD symptoms, so avoid them. Meditation, yoga, and art therapy relieve tension and relax. Remember that everyone's PTSD journey is different; finding what works may take time and experimentation. Be patient and get help from family and mental health professionals.



Quick tips to help you cope with PTSD


Check out our quick tips to help if you need to make positive changes to get back on track.


  1. Writing therapy: Writing about your traumatic experiences can help you process your emotions and thoughts. Consider keeping a journal, writing letters to your loved ones, or even writing a novel.

  2. Creative expression: Engaging in creative activities such as painting, drawing, or playing music can be a great way to express yourself and release negative emotions.

  3. Animal-assisted therapy: Spending time with animals can be calming and provide a sense of comfort. Consider adopting a pet or volunteering at an animal shelter.

  4. Nature therapy: Spending time in nature can be therapeutic and provide a sense of peace. Consider going for a walk, hiking, or camping.

  5. Mind-body practices: Practices such as yoga, meditation, and tai chi can help reduce stress and anxiety, and promote relaxation and mindfulness.

  6. Social support groups: Joining a support group with others who have experienced similar traumas can provide a sense of community and belonging.

  7. Virtual reality exposure therapy: This treatment involves using virtual reality technology to simulate the traumatic event and help desensitize the individual to it.


 


Reflection


  1. Have you struggled with PTSD in the past, or are you currently suffering from PTSD?

  2. What has helped you feel better and given you relief from symptoms in the past?

  3. Have there been periods where PTSD symptoms have disappeared? How long were they gone?

  4. What steps can individuals and organizations take to create a safer and more supportive work environment for nurses and other healthcare workers?

  5. How can nurses better support one another in recognizing and addressing symptoms of PTSD in themselves and their colleagues?



 


Sources:

American Nurses Association: Coping with Trauma and Tragedy - https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/nurse-staffing/coping-with-trauma-and-tragedy/

National Institute of Mental Health: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

American Psychological Association: Understanding PTSD and PTSD Treatment - https://www.apa.org/topics/ptsd

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services - https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/programs_campaigns/trauma-informed-care-behavioral-health-services.pdf


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